Handley Bird, a missionary in India, used to illustrate the incarnation of our Lord by the following story. A father, walking-stick in hand, took his young son for a walk. The lad asked his father to let him have the stick for a little while and, when his father acceded to his request, he began to use the stick to play golf with the stones and to swipe the shrubs growing by the roadside. By and by he poked it into a nest of ants which, hurt, disturbed and terrified, began to scurry off in all directions. The lad, tender-hearted, was sorry for what he had done and, looking up into his father's face, he said, 'Oh, father, I'm sorry these poor ants have been hurt and are scurrying off in terror. I love them and am sorry for them Oh father, won't you tell them how sorry I am for them and how I love them.' The father, looking at his son with an amused smile, said, 'I am glad you have such a tender, compassionate heart toward these little creatures. I would gladly give them your message and tell them how you feel toward them, but I can't. In order to be able to do so, I should have to be born an ant and speak to them in their language, for they cannot understand our language.'
C.S. Lewis described it this way: "Lying at your feet is your dog. Imagine, for the moment, that your dog and every dog is in deep distress. Some of us love dogs very much. If it would help all the dogs in the world to become like men, would you be willing to become a dog? Would you put down your human nature, leave your loved ones, your job, hobbies, your art and literature and music, and choose instead of the intimate communion with your beloved, the poor substitute of looking into the beloved's face and wagging your tail, unable to smile or speak? Christ by becoming man limited the thing which to Him was the most precious thing in the world; his unhampered, unhindered communion with the Father. "
These word pictures give us a taste of what it means for God the Son to become man, but only a taste. It is so hard to fathom. The truths we need to understand are this:
God made humans.
God made humans in the image of God, unlike any other creature he created.
God became human in Jesus Christ.
Let me add one, we often forget, God who became human in Jesus was made in the image of God. I say that because the word pictures that try to compare a human becoming an animal might be missing the point. Yes, there is a huge difference between God and humans; the gap is enormous. It is infinite. We are definitely not divine. Yet, we were also made in his image. So comparing ourselves with another species might not be helpful. Athanasius, an early church father who lived in the 300's A.D., wrote: "He became what we are that he might make us what he is."
Many of you like mysteries whether in books or TV. Here is a great mystery to ponder, enjoy, delight in, and wrestle with now and forevermore. Let me close with these words from the Nicene Creed: "We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man,..."
May God inspire your meditation and may God's peace reign in you this Christmas!